Land and Social Impacts: Ensuring We Do No Harm

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Commentary by Chad Dear, USAID, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science Policy Fellow.

“Do no harm”—the notion that we must consider, avoid, and mitigate the possible harm that any intervention might do—is a fundamental principle of humanitarian assistance and development. What concrete steps can you take to ensure that this principle is inviolate? Further, how can you use social impact assessments to better ensure that your intervention not only “does no harm”, but actually does good? USAID’s Land Office recently released the Land and Resource Tenure and Social Impacts Issue Brief, which describes land-related social impacts and their importance to USAID programming. Taking account of these social impacts is essential to ensuring that projects do not inadvertently cause harm, undermine USAID’s development objectives, contravene existing policy commitments, or erode public support for USAID operations.

The Issue Brief on Land and Resource Tenure and Social Impacts outlines concrete measures that USAID and others can take to safeguard against potential adverse social impacts of development interventions.


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